Hipnotic, March 2011

As one of the three members of Covert Bling who help to bring you belly dancers the Hipnotic evening at the Jazz Cafe at Reading’s Madejski Stadium, I can only share what is my own experience of the whole event.

In the run up – we do what we can to bring you vendors and performers both local and further afield so that you are inspired and infused with a desire to learn more, buy something new and just have an enjoyable evening.

If you’ve been to the event before then you will have noticed that last night saw a change in what we offer, and Emma worked you all so hard in the Shimmy Workshop that she had to cut it short!!  And I thoroughly enjoyed taking the beginners class, there were so many ladies new to belly dance who were so good at it!

Emma does a fantastic job of organising our performers – there is always an eclectic mix of new and experienced dancers at each event.

I try and ensure that we have a good selection of vendors and for this event Kat was making sure that her beginners class were happy!

Judy Linley’s eclectic oriental mix…..


Poppy Maya’s items hot from India…..

Bridie Przibram’s gorgeous fusion skirts……


Ooh, and I didn’t get a pic of Penny’s Everything Egyptian bazaar……

Our line up of dancers included new dancer groups, experienced groups (who added a twist of saucy fun from their teacher and choreographer) plus two groups from another local dancer and teacher,  soloists with flair and imagination and of course your hostesses for the evening Covert Bling who finished the performances sections with an improvised Tribal dance (including our stage manager Andrea who was drafted in and the VERY last minute!!) and then concluded with our ever popular and highly amusing (we hope!) Bouncing Butt dance where everyone gets to join in with the last performance – this time it was based around the shimmy workshop Emma had taught so expertly earlier in the evening.

Covert Bling.

The next event is on Sunday 15th may and if you’d like to come along then we’d be more than happy so see you there.

Once the pictures by our resident photographer are up we’ll let you know on the Facebook page.

Happy dancing, Deborah


Bedouin Girls Hafla, Windsor

Last weekend saw Covert Bling, the troupe I dance with,  attending the Bedouin Girls Hafla in Old Windsor.

First of all I must say that the timing of the event was just perfect for a glimpse of the largest full moon for 20 years.  It was the most beautiful thing, because it was a different size and different colour than a more usual full moon.  As an example, the more regular occurrence of the  harvest moon later in the year is something we are used to seeing even if we are unfamiliar with it and so we expect it to be bright and orange or if we are surprised we can soon understand whey it looks and feels so different.

In March here in the UK we do not expect to see such a large pinkorange moon-face.  As we drove along the unromantic highway to the venue town, we (me and Kitty Kohl) were transfixed by the beautiful natural phenomena we experienced.  And, in addition, thanks to Google Maps on Kitty’s phone we almost supernaturally arrived where we needed to be.

Onto the event itself.  This yearly event has a good venue and attendance.  Held at the Old Windsor Club it regularly raises money  and this year proceeds were going to the Thames Valley Hospice.

So here’s the deal for me as a performer.

This event offers a small but spacious event space.  That doesn’t really make sense but it means that it’s not a big space, but it’s big enough. Everyone needs to project out to the audience at this friendly event but not so much that you frighten them!

Changing room space is limited but I think this year everyone had realised that that was the case and came to the event as fully costumed as they could with their *every day* clothes brought along to change into later.

Each year the event has a *mini-show* from 8pm till 8.45pm and then it’s food and dancing till 11pm.  I think this is an excellent format.  It works really well as there’s enough dancing to talk about, enough food to  eat till you pop and and enough time if you have the opportunity to dance until you drop.  There’s also one vendor, and this year saw the return of Penny and her Everything Egyptian bazaar.

First up were the Bedouin Girls – a cheeky, fun and engaging choreography from the hostesses of the evenings event.  Always good fun and engaging to watch we keep asking them to come along to Hipnotic and I finally got the answer I was looking for – although the date is tba!

The came the *Dangerous Trio* led by Lynne Hogg – and when questioned they admitted that their name was a warning (definitely unqualified I can assure you!) that they might cause damage with their sticks.   Not a chance of that from this experienced trio.  They held my attention with their masterly and assured use of sticks with a great Saidi track, “Yammouna Fi AL Saaid”.

Next was Nikki, one of two solo performances.  Nikki danced to the very familiar and much enjoyed Nourhanne version of *Habibi Ya Eini* and I found her choreography to be engaging, free of too many repeats and one that the performer really seemed to enjoy.

Covert Bling were next – the troupe that I dance dance with.  Four of us were able to come long, and as usual we were improvising common steps and combinations to a piece of music that was familiar to us, Lesgi by Solace.  (I’m not advocating iTunes with that link….if I can I’ll change it….)

It’s a piece of music we danced to a few years ago.  Drilled to for some time.  It’s familiar to us as a toupe but it’s not something we work with a lot now. So we chose it for this Hafla because it presented a chance to:

Go back to our roots

Go back to something we know but don’t really KNOW.

Improvise in a way that feels both unfamiliar and safe.

It was enjoyable for us as there were a couple of slip ups, and so we will watch the footage, make some changes if need be, drill a lot, eat some more chocolate and make jokes and laugh about random things and most importantly keep on enjoying being a part of this experience.

Salomes Sisters were next with two tracks, *Trust in Me* (the proper Disney Jungle Book soundtrack version  – my favourite version ever)  and then a track they called “Wheelie Bin”.  I absolutely loved that their costumes were made to their own personal taste, and had a basis of white and old gold that they had all executed really well.

Saaidah aka Lynne Hogg was next up for a great solo to a track she identified as a *Lovely piece of old fashioned Saaidi*.  And she did it great justice with all of the energy, fun and challenge that Saaidi offers.

To close the performances section Hathor performed to *Jai Ho* from the soundtrack of the blockbuster film Slumdog Millionaire.  Always a treat to see something choreographed to a piece of music that has entered the cosmic pyschology, this was a fab way to end the performances section.

After everyone had cruised and enjoyed the buffet there was time for a raffle and then the rest of the evening was given over to dancing the night away.

Top marks to the Bedouin Girls for a fun evening and I look forward to seeing how much they raised for Thames Valley Hospice, AND having them come and perform at Hipnotic.

P.S.  I forgot my camera so can’t supply pictures!!

Sagat Lesson

The most amazing thing happened yesterday afternoon.

I teach a group of women with learning disabilities on Friday afternoons.  When they came along and did their first performance at Hipnotic a few months ago they were blown away by a) the Fat Chance Belly Dance dvd we were showing on the screens, and b) Kamara, who used sagat/zills/finger cymbals in their second performance.  Ever since they have been bugging me to show them how to use them.

So yesterday I decided to take my bag of sagat along and reward them with having a go if they worked at doing the choreography (an edited version of a choreo they love by my good friend and mentor Emma as we will perform it in May at Hipnotic).

They did work hard and I so I got the sagat out to great excitement.  They were amazing!  All we did was triples (right left right) and with encouragement they not only were able to walk around the room keeping in pretty good time, but some of them found their inner diva again and were dancing.  I got them to stop and do some hip drops, and then in response to the music stop again and keep their sagat silent before we started moving again.  And I couldn’t stop grinning the whole time.  They were soooo amazing using their new prop.  In fact, they are all really fired up by props.  Their very first performance was with veils because I realised early on that they love having something to play with as well as dance.

I tried to use as many words as I could to let them know how fantastic they were at using sagat, moving and dancing all at the same time.  I still don’t have the words to describe the experience!  So much so that I am very tempted to have them perform with sagat later in the year.

Exciting Stuff!

There’s a lot going on in the world of Blackwillow belly dance at the moment.  Next week the troupe I dance with, Covert Bling, are appearing at two events for Women’s Week.  One is the Belly Dancing Extravaganza being held at Deja Vu in Reading, and then on the Saturday night we are dancing as a prelude to a performance of The Vagina Monologues.  All very exciting stuff and we are really pleased to be able to offer our talents to help a great cause, supporting Berkshire Women’s Aid.

The week after that we’re going to be dancing at a Hafla in Great Windsor held by the Bedouin Girls, and our next big do after our own event Hipnotic on the 27th March is an appearance at the Deb Rubin hafla in Southampton on April 14th.  I shall be vending as Blackwillow Tribal at that one too so if you’re there come along and say hi!

As for my personal dance goals I am working on my sagat skills with a view to choreographing a fusion number for performance later in the Spring.  I’ll chat more about that once I feel I’ve gotten my teeth into it as it were.